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'Friendly fire' widow's Bush plea

BBC | March 15, 2007

British "friendly fire" victim Matty Hull's widow has appealed to US President George Bush to help find out the truth about her husband's death.

Susan Hull, 30, said when she met Mr Bush in November 2003 he asked if there was anything he could do to help.

An inquest is being held into how 25-year-old Lance Corporal of Horse died at the hands of a US A-10 "Tank Buster" plane in southern Iraq.

Mrs Hull said: "He assured me that he would do all he could to help."

In a statement outside the inquest in Oxford she continued: "President Bush, this is the last day you can help us. We ask that you give the coroner just one single page."

'Repeated requests'

The Hull family believes key information was blacked out of a US Friendly Fire Investigation Board Report given to the coroner investigating his death on 28 March 2003.

The MoD had previously refused the let a US cockpit video showing L/Cpl's death be used at the inquest, but changed its mind after the tape was leaked to the Sun newspaper.

Mrs Hull, standing alongside L/Cpl Hull's mother, Mandy, 46, his father, Richard, 50, and his sister, Lauren McCourt, 18, appealed for the rest of the document to be handed over.

She said: "The coroner has asked twice for this document, following conflicting suggestions from the Ministry of Defence regarding what evidence was in his possession.

"Despite the coroner's repeated requests, he still does not have it.

"We have 1,110 lines of evidence from this document - but 11 are blanked out.

"To President Bush and the US Government - we implore you to release the 11 lines and let the coroner have these today, so that our family can feel more satisfied with the transparency of this inquest."

The inquest into L/Cpl Hull's death has already been told how the ground controller, codenamed Manilla Hotel, was "gobsmacked" that one of two A10 planes under his control had attacked a British armoured vehicles convoy instead of their intended target.

Manilla Hotel had given no permission to open fire on this target, British Forward Air Controller Stuart Matthews told Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker.

Mr Walker has this week repeatedly renewed his requests for what he said was "vital" further information but so far these have been turned down.

Mrs Hull's legal team were on the phone until the early hours to the US embassy and other American authorities trying to get them to change their mind.

Solicitor Geraldine McCool said Mrs Hull was not asking to see the documents herself - only that the coroner could access them.

She added: "Can you imagine how frustrating this is for the family? We have the feeling that we are being treated differently."

The inquest is expected to last until Friday.



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